Athol begins master plan updates

Athol Town Hall and Main Street.

Athol Town Hall and Main Street. Paul Franz

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 03-18-2024 5:00 PM

ATHOL – The town’s newly-formed Master Plan Committee has started work on portions of Athol’s existing master plan, last updated in 2015.

To aid in that effort, the committee has developed a survey seeking resident input on topics ranging from housing, transportation and economic development to open space and recreation, as well as land use and zoning. This work is being paid for through a $49,000 Planning Assistance Grant

Assistant Town Planner Heidi Murphy said copies of the survey are available at Town Hall, the Athol Senior Center and Athol Public Library. It is also available online at https://tinyurl.com/4485pxak.

“We want to use the survey results to help us identify the goals and objectives that will be placed in the master plan itself,” said Murphy. “We did include some questions relative to public health because public health, even though it’s not a required element, I found that there were a lot of communities that took time to come up with a few goals on public health.”

Work on the master plan will be an ongoing process, according to Murphy. She said the survey will provide for a vision in the plan, as well as goals and objectives. She has applied for a District Local Technical Assistance grant through the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission to update other chapters of the master plan in the future.

Murphy is hopeful that those completing the survey will take the time to review all elements of the questionnaire, which include a map that can be used to upload photos of what they would like to see in a specific location.

“What the map does is ask residents to identify preferred locations for where we should prioritize sustainable development, preferred locations for conservation, preferred locations and density for new housing, preferred locations for additional commercial development, and locations for infrastructure upgrades and repairs,” said Murphy.

The deadline for completing and submitting the survey is Monday, March 25. The Master Plan Committee will review the survey results at its meeting on Wednesday, March 27, which can be accessed via Zoom. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. A public forum to gain additional public input will be held at Athol Public Library at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 8.

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Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.